Describing the scope of a FOIA request -- and on the agency’s side, interpreting the scope of that request -- often feels like more art than science. Requesters naturally describe requests in expansive terms to be sure that they don’t exclude potentially valuable information. On the other hand, agency FOIA staffers often feel like they … Continue reading Scoping Out a Successful FOIA Request
In the course of our work as the FOIA Ombudsman, we regularly hear from agencies and requesters about FOIA practices that work well. We also hear about practices that don’t work as well. Too often, such problems result in legal action by requesters. We have observed that the following agency practices can be “litigation invitations”: … Continue reading How to Invite a FOIA Lawsuit
In this season of thankfulness, OGIS offers a short list of things to be thankful for (aside from not-from-a-can creamed corn, pumpkin cheesecake and homemade (beer) biscuits that will grace tables of OGIS staffers this Thanksgiving). In no particular order, OGIS is thankful for: FOIA itself. Right-to-know laws and constitutional provisions in 105 countries around … Continue reading Giving Thanks
Since OGIS opened in 2009, we’ve noticed that some FOIA Public Liaisons (FPLs) are not entirely clear about their role. The job title, created by Executive Order 13392 in December 2005, was codified in the OPEN Government Act of 2007, (5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(6)(B)(ii) and (l)). One provision says that FPL’s are responsible for … Continue reading That’s Not My Job… or Is It?